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Photography exhibition highlights disappearance of Sikhs in India

Last Updated May 6, 2019 at 10:24 pm PDT

A photo exhibit in Vancouver that features images of Sikh families whose loved ones were killed or disappeared from the Indian province of Punjab in the 1980s and '90s will travel to other parts of the country. (Source: Lapata-exhibition.com)
Summary

The set of photographs focuses on the families of those killed for their faith

Vancouver was chosen to host the project because of its diverse population

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –¬†An international exhibit highlighting the disappearance of thousands of Sikhs in India has arrived in Vancouver.

Jatinder Singh is one of the directors of Khalsa Aid Canada, which helped bring the exhibit to Vancouver.

The set of photographs is called Lapata. And The Left Behind, and focuses on the families of those killed for their faith. Singh says the photographs document a time of extreme violence targeting the religious group and the struggles families face while they continue to search for loved ones.

“These are families we are showcasing. We’ve been providing a monthly stipend to them for the last few decades. It was horrific for the community, this genocide that happened,” he says. “Many of these young men and women were the breadwinners for these families and the last 20 to 30 years have been extremely hard for them.”

He says while the stories are difficult to hear, it’s necessary in order to remember the thousands who were killed.

“We want to give these families a voice. The thing that resounded was this desire for families to have outsiders find out about what happened, what happened to them. Even to this day, it’s largely an unknown genocide. Outside of the Sikh community and the Indian community, people really don’t know. Now that the exhibit has been open for a few days – young Sikh people hadn’t heard of this. They’ve been woken up by the history of what happened, how these elderly mothers and fathers are still suffering in the Punjab.”

He says Vancouver was chosen to host the project because of its diverse population.

“Vancouver has always been an important city for asylum seekers. Sikhs came here seeking asylum in the 80s and 90s because of violence in the Punjab. It’s always been an extremely generous city that can absorb humanity and people suffering elsewhere. It just felt like the right place to start off this exhibit.”

Singh says the exhibit has drawn a diverse crowd, from all backgrounds and walks of life. The free event is being held at The Space, an art gallery in Yaletown, until May 7.